Noor Daoud was the only woman to take to the track in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm Al Shaikh, where the Palestinian racer impressed the crowds with her “drift” driving skills.
Daoud has mastered the art of drift — deliberately oversteering to make the rear wheels skid — and travelled to Sharm Al Shaikh for a regional competition.
“Since I was little, I’ve become used to meeting up with the guys to play football or tennis,” she said on the sidelines of the competition.
Racing now dominates her life, evident from Instagram where the 27-year-old often poses with her thick wavy hair falling over driving leathers.
“When I was little, I loved cars and I had a collection of them to play with,” said Daoud, a polyglot who was born in the American state of Texas and went to a French school in Occupied Jerusalem.
In Sharm Al Shaikh, she zigzagged around the tarmac track and dodged obstacles, as thick white smoke and sparks came off her car.
“There’s only one girl!” said a young enthusiast of drift, which emerged in Japan in the 1970s.
Competitors were judged by a professional panel on their style and their driving skills, which count as much as their speed.
Daoud had to abandon the second round of the competition due to engine failure, but nonetheless picked up a trophy for her participation as the sole woman.
She wishes other Arab women would take part in professional competitions. “Let Arab girls show the world that we also follow our dreams,” she said.
There are, however, more women racing cars in the region, including four other Palestinians who featured alongside Daoud in a Speed Sisters documentary.
Driving ‘to feel free’
It has been more than a decade since Daoud first raced, borrowing a car from her mother who she credits as being the sole supporter of her ambitions.
She learnt drifting “on the streets of Palestine” in 2010, before moving to Dubai where she now lives. “At first, in Palestine, people would say to me: ‘But what are you doing? The sport is for guys!’” she said.
“I went for what I want, I didn’t listen to anyone. When I got successful, people started to respect me (and say) ‘wow, she did it!’” added Daoud, who regularly takes part in international competitions.
But drifting is more than just sport and spectacle for Daoud. “We are under occupation, so this helps us. It helps me to drive to feel free,” she said.
Occupied East Jerusalem, seen by Palestinians as the capital of their future state, and the West Bank have been occupied by Israel since 1967. “I want to show the world that just because we are under occupation. It doesn’t mean we will stay holed up in our homes,” Daoud said.